Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Perfect practice; transforming management

This month's Industrial Engineer magazine is brought to you by my childhood.

Well, not really. It only seems that way, as both the cover story and the lead story in The Front Line bring back memories from that long ago time.

Yes, I was one of those kids forced to take piano lessons. I enjoyed them somewhat, and the teacher said I had talent. Motivation to practice, alas, plumb escaped me. Results might have improved if Adam Gagan had been around to handle scheduling.

Gagan found a practice problem when he arrived as operations manager at the world-renowned Juilliard School. Too many students chased too few practice rooms. "Making Practice Perfect in Performing Arts," details the issues, the constraints and potential loopholes. Consultations with students, faculty and staff provided the data "dots" that were then connected with a systems solution that is, as one student said, "freaking brilliant."

The Front Line, which starts with "Fantasy Reveals More than Meets the Eye," interviews Seth M. Spain, who would have gotten along well with my little brother. Both were fans of The Transformers, a robot toy/TV/movie franchise that started in the 1980s. My "little" brother, Kevin Hughes, now is taller than me and works as a beverage distribution manager (or, as I lovingly call him, "intoxication engineer") for a chain of restaurant/bars. But when he really was little he gathered his robots, watched the animated series, and went around singing The Transformers theme song.

Spain's research notes how society has used fantasy to portray ideal leadership since, well, pretty much the genesis of literature. It only makes sense that Transformers fans moving into management now would bring lessons from the robot civil war.

So here's to you Kevin and Seth. Lead us into the next generation.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at mhughes@iienet.org or (770) 349-1110.